On Wednesday, October 19th, members of MPIRG and several other youth environmental groups met with Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to ask for the Senator’s support in defending the Clean Air Act, particularly against the Rand Paul Congressional Review of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. Natalie Cook (Chair of the Student Board of Directors) and Logan Bailey (UMTC chapter) represented MPIRG at the meeting, which was headed by Christy Newell of the Will Steger Foundation.
We met with Greg Bohrer, Sen. Klobuchar’s energy and environmental legislative correspondent, and explained why defending the Clean Air Act was so important to us, our generation, and the state of Minnesota. The Clean Air Act has been vital in protecting the nation’s health, and attacks on the clean air standards would weaken regulations on harmful pollutants such as mercury, ozone, and greenhouse gases. These attacks are part of an alarming trend of anti-EPA legislation. This is of special concern to us, young adults, because the energy and environmental policy decisions of today will affect us for decades to come. The problems caused by pollution, global warming, and diminishing natural resources will be our generation’s burden to bear.
Amy Klobuchar’s past environmental voting record was also discussed. For most of her term Sen. Klobuchar has been supportive of pro-environment legislation, but her stance has softened considerably in the past year. In April 2011, she voted in favor of two separate attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act, the Baucus Amendment and the Stabenow Amendment. We expressed our concern and disappointment over these votes, as well as with the Senator’s reluctance to voice support for environmental regulations.
Mr. Bohrer was asked multiple times if Sen. Klobuchar would make a speech or public statement in strong support of the Clean Air Act. We continued to stress this point as we talked about the current attitude towards environmental regulation. The debates over global warming and the EPA have been marked by a belief that environmental regulation restricts industry. This is simply not true. Regulation creates the opportunity for innovation and for growth in the green economy. Several of us at the meeting are working or studying in environmental fields, and we spoke to Mr. Bohrer about our personal experiences and our frustration with the lack of support by our representatives. Not standing up to anti-science and anti-environment attitudes only discourages bright young adults from pursuing green jobs.
We were told that Amy Klobuchar will not make a speech in support of the Clean Air Act. She is unwilling to threaten relations with her Republican colleagues whom she hopes to work with on other issues. She also has not decided on which way she will vote on the Congressional Review of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, a rule that is estimated to save up to 34,000 lives a year. By not defending the Clean Air Act, Amy Klobuchar is allowing attacks on the public health of Minnesota.
It was disappointing to learn that Sen. Klobuchar is on the fence regarding the Rand Paul review, but there were a few positives to take away from the meeting. Mr. Bohrer promised to pass along our concerns to the Senator, and encouraged us to keep communicating with her office. Youth will make up 22% of the eligible vote when Sen. Klobuchar runs for re-election next year, so our voices are sure to be heard.
Written by Logan Bailey